Saturday, February 11, 2006

Thumb and thumber

To the optimist currently residing in Durham getting more education that can be good for him, I say "plenty of time, my posterior".

Today I went to have a good go at making some progress on the Beech From Hell and hit a teeny weeny little problem. Almost immediately my thumb joints protested; before I'd even got to the point of realising I'd forgotten to take the camera down to the workshop with me. 15 or so minutes in and I could barely touch tip of forefinger to thumb, things had swelled up alarmingly on my right hand and it hurt like hell if I tried to so much as pick up the spokeshave. The left just hurt. I stopped and spent all the France/Ireland game (exciting but odd) and most of the Italy/England one (Italy are getting good, eh?) nursing some ice and it eventually subsided a bit. Ibuprofen helped too...

It's not a new phenomenon; any long period of gripping small items has been causing trouble for a couple of years now but I've learnt to work round it by and large. But I had totally failed to realise what a strain such intense use of spokeshave and travisher would cause and I simply don't see a hand tool way to work around it. The real bummer is it starts up again straight away, so not only do I go "ow" immediately (which isn't exactly conducive to wanting to get on) but that 15 or 20 minutes encompasses everything; moving clamps, sharpening the tools midway, and anything I do afterwards like, f'rinstance, making a start on the legs or sticks. That's all the time I'm getting before I can barely do anything at all. The thumbs are, well, vital. But at 15 to 20 minutes progress a day this is going to take a long time. I'm not at all a happy bunny.

But on the plus side, what progress I did make revealed that the mutilated spokeshave lends itself very well to fairly rapiding hogging on wood cross grain either side of the pommel, so the vandalisim was far from being in vain. And it's looking even more seat-like. I'll try and remember to get a pic - of the seat, not the thumb. The thumb is very boring; no exciting colours or anything...


  1. Ahh Rugby, well of course their are a few sporting exceptions of course. Did you see the mens downhill skiing? Had to be watched....

    Have you tried taking ibuprofen first - so the anti-inflammatory effects kick in prior to starting - or the ibuprofen gel - which may work as it sounds like the pain is close to the surface, at least close enough for the gel to have some effect?

    Were your hands warm enough - e.g. you weren't getting a double whammy of cold white fingers, and a difficult holding task? Could fingerless gloves help?

    Random suggestions I know, but you never know.

    PS: Don't forget to take ibuprofen after food - its hard on the tummy!

  2. alf,

    you might want to have an doc take a look and see whether you have carpal tunnel syndrome. My own experience included symptoms not unlike yours. if you have it, you want to get it treated asap - the longer it goes untreated the less likely a complete recovery is. if you catch it early, with lots of physical therapy you can get back to 100%. basically doing wacky curls with 2 pound weights and squeezing squishy balls.

  3. Pudentilla, I did wonder, it being so often mentioned on woodworking fora, but I don't have any wrist pain so...? Although having said that, I do now! Ah, the power of suggestion; I'm a sucker for it every time. The very day I get over my pathological hatred of the medical profession I'll go and see the doc, promise :~)

    Hey, anyone know what the position is on using ibuprofen gel on your hands? 'Cos the instructions always say firmly "wash your hands", which would sort of defeat the object wouldn't it...?

  4. Have you tried taking ibuprofen first - so the anti-inflammatory effects kick in prior to starting

    Holy shit; that sounds like a way to maximise injury by supressing pain response.



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